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Author Topic: Don't know how to plug a straight key in!  (Read 3423 times)
KF7LCE
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Posts: 24




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« on: November 10, 2010, 06:11:59 PM »

I'm a relatively new ham (licensed in June) just trying to get into CW. I've started learning Morse Code and have an old rig courtesy of my elmer, but until yesterday didn't have a key. That changed thanks to the generosity of K7JAN, who gave me a straight key from WWII for free on the condition that I someday pass it on to a new ham. I was quite excited about finally acquiring a key, but I quickly discovered one rather important problem that was overlooked:

I don't know how to plug it in!

There are two pegs at the "front" of the key (opposite the knob). I'm guessing they should be connected to a cable by two different leads, but I'm not certain about that, and even then, is one positive or negative? And do you just use coax with the proper adapter to connect the cable to the rig, or is something different needed?

I apologize if this is a stupid question to be asking, but I would appreciate any help I could get with this.

Derrick KF7LCE
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AB7KT
Member

Posts: 155




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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2010, 07:10:34 PM »

You normally have two threaded studs on the key to attach the cable.
The cable can be any wire you have lying around. Lamp cord will work fine. If you want to do it neat, solder two terminals on the ends to attach to the studs. On the other end you need whatever plug your radio requires. This is normally a 1/4" or 1/8" phono plug. Some rigs require a stereo plug, some mono. Without knowing what radio you have, it's hard to give detailed instructions.
Now, you have two studs on the key. One is common to the base of the key and one is common to the contacts of the key. Attach the one that is common to the contacts of the key to the tip of the phono plug and the other to the other terminal on the phono plug.
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I thought you said this was a weak signal mode ? I HAVE a weak signal and he still didn't hear me.

FWIW: My callsign is AB8KT
KA7PLE
Member

Posts: 25




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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2010, 08:20:05 PM »

Congrats and welcome to a great hobby.
AB7KT is correct. If you look on your radio, either front or back, you will see a jack labeled "KEY" or "Paddles" this is where you would plug in the phono plug. If you have the manual for the rig, it should have instructions on how to wire the phono plug. It should also have other information on CW for your particular rig.
If you don't have the manual, you might be able to find it on the internet. Just google for it. Most manufactures have manuals in PDF format.
Don't be afraid to ask questions, it one way to learn.
Good luck on learning the code, its a great mode.

73
KA7PLE
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N2EY
Member

Posts: 3860




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« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2010, 04:13:22 AM »

What model rig and what model key?

The usual connection is a 1/4 inch *phone* (not phono) plug.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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KF7LCE
Member

Posts: 24




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« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2010, 09:32:03 AM »

I hate to say it, but I don't know either one! The kit was made by Small Wonder Labs (no, it isn't a Rockmite); I think it's one of their older ones. The key didn't have anything but a serial number on it. I was told it's a Navy key, and it isn't one of the fireproof ones.
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K9VT
Member

Posts: 3




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« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2010, 06:25:25 AM »

Congrats on your interest in CW. NO question is out of line as long as its sincere. Glad to see you have taken the initiative to ask. Any help i can be please feel free to contact me. As a long time cw lover i would be pleased to assist. 73 Ken K9VT
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K7KBN
Member

Posts: 2765




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« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2010, 07:29:31 AM »

Use an ohmmeter to check what you think might be the connections.  Key up = open circuit.  Key down = closed circuit.  If that's what you have, connect the key to the rig and go.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
KQ6Q
Member

Posts: 965




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« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2010, 10:57:30 PM »

with a solid state rig, you're keying low voltage, and it;s not critical which binding post is to hot and which is ground. The binding post that connects to the most exposed metal parts of the key should go to the ground side of the plug that goes to the rig, and the post that connects to the least exposed part goes to the hot side. In the days of cathode-keyed tube rigs, there could be several hundred volts across the key.
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KA7PLE
Member

Posts: 25




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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2011, 11:46:06 PM »

If the little rig is from Small Wonders, they have archives of all the manuals for all of the rigs they produced. You can download them for free (PDF files) Take a look there and see if you can find the manual for your particular radio. That will give you the information for how to wire your key, and which jack it which.

Hope to hear you on the air.

73
KA7PLE
Mike
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K8AXW
Member

Posts: 3683




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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2011, 09:35:49 AM »

A hand key is nothing more than a spring loaded switch.  Just connect two wires to it via the two posts on the front of the key; connect the other end of the wire to a plug, whatever it takes, and go.

The key (switch) just does whatever the transmitter/transceiver wants. 

Please stay with CW.  As you become more proficient, you will have found a whole new world of communications!  You will have learned a new language!

Those who believe that CW is dead is brain dead!
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